Mozambique passes landmark legislation for $91.7bn sovereign wealth fund

In a pivotal move, Mozambique’s council of ministers has greenlit legislation establishing a sovereign wealth fund, managing vast earnings from anticipated natural gas exports worth $91.7 billion. This strategic step, integral to an IMF-backed economic plan, signals a commitment to transparency and governance reform. The fund will initially receive 40% of gas revenues, ensuring fiscal stability, with oversight by an independent committee to uphold accountability. Mozambique is poised to harness its resource wealth responsibly, paving the way for sustainable growth.

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By Matthew Hill

Mozambique’s council of ministers approved a decree for the nation’s new sovereign wealth fund legislation, governing how one of the world’s poorest nations spends earnings from an estimated $91.7 billion in natural-gas exports in the coming decades.

Introducing the law was a key part of an economic program with the International Monetary Fund. It’s an important step in improving governance in the southeast African nation that got cut off from most international financing in 2016, when the government admitted it had borrowed more than $1 billion that it didn’t disclose to the IMF as required. 

That led to a debt default and spawned court cases from New York to London. 

“The regulation represents a significant advance in the search for transparency, accountability and good governance in the natural resources sector,” Mozambique’s finance ministry said in a statement Tuesday. “Mozambique is laying the foundations for management based on best international practices.”

The law sees 40% of state revenues from liquefied natural-gas exports going to the fund for the first 15 years, with the rest allocated to the national budget. After that, the money will be split evenly between savings and annual spending. 

The decree requires a supervision committee, an independent body including civil society representatives that will be responsible for controlling and monitoring all of the fund’s operations related to revenues, deposits, resource allocation and management. 

Its obligation to report directly to the parliament and publish its findings quarterly will ensure transparency and accountability, the finance ministry said.

Mozambique joined the elite club of LNG exporters in 2022, when a 3.4 million ton per year offshore platform sold its first shipment. Still, the nation’s much bigger onshore export projects, which companies including TotalEnergies SE and ExxonMobil Corp. plan, have suffered years-long delays as Islamic State-linked militants carried out a violent campaign in the surrounding province of Cabo Delgado.

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